It seems with Mourinho at the helm it is almost impossible to criticise Chelsea. The press love the charisma and theatre he brings and the fans have built up an almost unerring loyalty to the man they call the ‘Special One’.
Fast on their way to another tilt at the Premier League crown this year, the addition on Nemanja Matic will undoubtedly help reinforce what has been at time a pretty soft central midfield. But for many the deal to bring back a man that they only sold 3 years previous just represents everything that is wrong with the West London club.
I don’t doubt the deal’s importance going forward; the likes of Essien and Luiz have proven themselves to be ill suited to the designs Mourinho has for the club and the acquisition of a more balanced central midfielder doesn’t come as such a great surprise. The contention here though is with the fact they have paid £21m for a player they let leave as a makeweight in the not so distant past. Is this just another example of Chelsea’s comical transfer policy and their inadequacies at developing the youth of tomorrow?
Unsurprisingly Mourinho was incredibly pleased with the deal, commenting in the Daily Mail:
“I am very pleased that Nemanja is returning to Chelsea. He has grown as a player in Portugal and has become a fantastic all-round midfielder. I am sure he will become a very important member of the squad and help us to achieve our ambitions.”
It is all well and good Chelsea getting a quality addition to their first team, but the fact he had to go to Benfica to ‘develop’ is somewhat laughable. In fact even more comical is the fact that the man they traded Matic for initially is no doubt going to lose his place eventually in midfield to him.
This isn’t a one off; Chelsea have a worrying recent history of neglecting youth in favour of big money short term solutions. We have seen the careers of Ryan Bertrand and Josh McEachran flat line following early promise, simply because Chelsea don’t have the ability or even will to nurture these stars. There seems to be a culture at the club that see’s the development of youth as the kind of activity that feeder clubs take part in, a strategy for making money rather than achieving footballing success. Chelsea under their current ownership have seemingly tried to elevate themselves above this, a feeling that it isn’t their job to develop players but simply to buy the finished product.
I don’t doubt that this strategy works, and in some cases Chelsea have bought young, Hazard and Oscar come to mind. The difference though is that the club are still buying on reputation, these aren’t cut priced deals with a view to development, they are still players to slot straight into the first team.
There does seem to be a myth in this country that the best teams can rely on other clubs to develop their youth for them, because so many of them are guilty of it. When you look on the continent at the best teams you see droves of talented first team footballers that have all come through the youth ranks. Think about Xavi and Iniesta at Barcelona or Lahm and Schweinsteiger at current European Champions Bayern, these weren’t multi million pound ready-made purchases but long-term investments.
Who knows the capture of Matic could be the midfield solidity that allows Mourinho to win back the title for his beloved Chelsea, in any case it just represents another sad case of short-termism in our game.
Matic may not be English, but his transfer first out and back to the club epitomises the problems we have in our country developing players. Gone is any sense of long term perspective or view to the future, we want it now and if we can’t have it we get someone else in for £20m plus that can do the job.
A deal that will be lauded, but arguably Chelsea should be chastised for.